SpicyIP Tidbit: ‘Hari Puttar’ in trouble with Warner Bros

Close on the heels of SpicyIP’s new logo, there’s spicy news that a Mumbai banner – Mirchi Movies (and I shan’t make things more obvious) – has been sued for IPR violations by Warner Brothers over the choice of title of its children’s film, Hari Puttar — A Comedy of Terrors, for being too similar to its “Harry Potter” franchise.

The case was listed for hearing today in the Bombay High Court, while the film is scheduled for release in India on September 12. As initial reports begin to stream in about this case, the lawsuit is being berated as over-zealousness on the part of WB in its attempt to “value and protect” its IPR.

The Mumbai studio is particularly concerned over why WB should have chosen to sue a fortnight before the release, when the title Hari Puttar had been registered way back in 2005.

Some of you may recall the Durga Puja drama about the Hogwarts Castle-pandal from last year, where although the injunction was in Warner Bros’ favour, the pandal was allowed to keep standing. In that case, the structure was an acknowledged reproduction of the imaginary castle, and therefore a challenge was more understandable. in this Hari Puttar lawsuit, there is little to defend apart from a syllabic similarity. The Indian film’s characters apparently bears no resemblance to Rowling’s creations. In fact, there are suggestions that the film looks more like an Indian-ised version of Macaulay Culkin’s Home Alone films.

The time period of filing the suit was also similar – just a few days/weeks before the Puja celebrations (in this case, a few weeks before the film release). It is possible that this is strategising on WB’s part ensure that ownership over the franchise is made abundantly clear, and a signal to show that vigilance continues. Otherwise, the suit itself appears to be weak, particularly when considering the cultural prevalence of both “Hari” (a popular given name) and “puttar” (a colloquial north-Indian term for “child”) in the country. Unless, of course, they are suing for something deeper than that… which a Harry Potter non-fan such as self (yes, our ilk does exist!) wouldn’t understand anyway.

One comment.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    bollywood has a huge market now. So far they have been copying movies without any objections from the makers of the original movies. They have been copying(haha…) hollywood, Korean and other movies and making good money. Now the time has come to keep bollywood in check and sued by every hollywood movie makers whose movie they copy to create one lame bollywood movie.
    Let the bollywood be creative and realistic. -Bollywood fan


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